70th Birthday: Piet van Leeuwen

  • Author: ChemViews
  • Published Date: 03 February 2012
  • Copyright: Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim
thumbnail image: 70th Birthday: Piet van Leeuwen

Professor Piet van Leeuwen, Institut Català d'Investigació Química (Institute of Chemical Research of Catalonia, ICIQ), Tarragona, Spain, turns 70 this year. His birthday is being celebrated with a special symposium held in his honor on February 3rd at the ICIQ.

Piet van Leeuwen received his Ph.D. from the University of Leiden, The Netherlands, in 1967, and joined Royal Dutch Shell shortly after. He remained at Shell for twenty six years, both in Amsterdam and the USA, playing a pivotal role in the emerging field of homogeneous catalysis. During this period, he discovered catalysts for hydroformylation reactions that remain the industry standard. From 1979–1994, he was Head of the “Fundamental aspects of Homogenenous Catalysis and Organometallic Chemistry” section of the company. Van Leeuwen initiated and led the homogeneous catalysis group at the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and held the chair of Industrial Homogeneous Catalysis at the Technical University of Eindhoven, The Netherlands. In 2004, he moved to ICIQ, where he holds the position of Group Leader.

Van Leeuwen’s interests range from fundamental aspects to applied catalysis utilizing mainly late transition metals. He was the first chemist to publish research on the use of dendrimers in catalysis and is a pioneer in “sustainable chemistry” thanks to his studies on the selectivity, recovery and stability of catalysts. His current research areas are ligand effects in hydroformylation, carbonylation reactions, carbon-carbon bond formation reactions, microflow reactor systems for homogeneous catalysis, and e-learning.

He has authored over 350 publications, 30 patents, and has edited several books. He has supervised more than 40 Ph.D. theses.

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